Importation of chemicals by unregistered, uncertified and unpermitted dealers was suspended yesterday, with consumers directed to source the substances from qualified suppliers.
The Chief Government Chemist (CGC), Professor Samwel Manyele, announced the suspension effective yesterday, declaring zero tolerance to indiscriminate imports of the materials.
He condemned the tendency by dealers to complete all the processes and once the consignment is at the port, they seek permit to get the imports in the country. Professor Manyele said the suspension envisages at tightly managing the chemicals, taking into account the booming business in the country.
He said chemicals whose labels are neither in English nor Swahili will be returned to their places of origin effective yesterday, directing those involved in the business to observe rules to avoid unnecessary inconveniences.
The CGC asked dealers without certificates of registration and import permits to seek the documents to qualify for the business. "Companies which are not registered should liaise with their registered colleagues if they have any business deals as we will no longer handle imported chemicals by unregistered firms... you will be ordered to send them back," warned Prof Manyele.
He said the agency would be making close follow-ups on ministries and public institutions' tender documents to ensure that they are granted to qualified suppliers as per Government Chemist Laboratory Agency (GCLA) requirements.
"We have been receiving requests from ministries and public institutions dealing with chemicals to clear their consignments whose tenders have been won by unregistered dealers, the trend has to come to an end for the safety of public health, economy and environment," said Prof Manyele.
He said plans are underway to organise importers' awareness seminars to disseminate education, saying it is clear that some agents hired to handle chemical cargos tamper with the bill of lading invoices to deny the government its due revenues.
"We are happy that Tanzania Revenue Authority has a system through which we can tally the details given to them and ours, strategically to check against dishonest cargo agents," he said.
According to Prof Manyele, the suspension was necessitated by increasing cent needs extra attention, saying way back in 2013 the agency used to issue between five and seven permits a day but presently between 100 to 150 permits are issued.
With about 80 chemical inspectors, Prof Manyele said the cargo scrutiny remains a serious challenge despite the team working for 24 hours.